The wire, a crime against PR?

Written by Bryony Cox

Whether you love and use them, or think they are a waste of time is largely based on the wire service you choose and the end goal you are hoping to reach. If quantity of press articles is your thing, then a wire service might be for you, but if you want to change the perception or awareness of your business you really need to look well beyond a wire service to achieve that [expects flurry of commercial wire service providers to argue otherwise].

It’s important at this point to quickly differentiate between the well-known news cooperatives and agencies such as Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg, and PR newswires. The former provides journalist created content to many news platforms around the world. They also power the financial markets with data. Yes, some do offer PRs the chance to distribute news, but this is done through a partner PR newswire service.

Speaking to colleagues and some of my favourite journalists (Computer Weekly’s Lis Evenstad!) about their use of PR newswires, the feedback largely sits on the ‘hater’ side of the fence. In fact, when asking some journalists what they think of wire services, “useless” or “crap” were the only publishable words I was given.

So, if this is the view of the journalists we aim to get our news to, why does the PR industry still use them? As you would expect from the companies whose business relies on PRs and organisations to pay them to release their news from big names such Business Wire and Cision, they can offer benefits over and above the traditional method of targeted media relations that we practice here.

Putting my own opinions to one side (briefly), and in the name of balance I spent some time looking around at what they offer. Here are some of the reasons you might use a newswire service:

  • Far-reaching – with just one upload you can reach every journalist in a particular industry, in any country that you specify, maximising media exposure and press coverage. Most good newswire services also have international partnerships with news agencies, increasing your reach further
  • Reaching the ‘every man’ (or woman) – keeping on the far-reaching theme, when you use a newswire service you are opening up your reach far outside of the media. Anybody will access to the internet (4,156,932,140 people globally) can find and read your news
  • Anybody can be a PR with a newswire – as I mention above, anyone with an account and the ability to pay the fee can disseminate their news via a newswire
  • An extra pair of hands for editing – most wire services will provide in-house team to edits and feedback on your news. Most also provide in-house translation
  • Fact checking – newswires are used by journalists to fact check a story. In essence this positions your client as a thought leader in the area – and if the journalist, has a mind to, enables them to get in touch with you proactively for interviews and further comment
  • Reaches the journalist, not their spam folder – newswires ensure your client news does not end up stuck in a journalists’ spam folder, in fact you don’t even have to know who it is that is writing about the subject you have news about – just send it out blindly and it might stick
  • Global connections – most good newswire services have partnerships with national and international news agencies, making sure your news is distributed far and wide
  • The death of media – as the Drum so eloquently puts it, the media industry may be approaching its ‘Lehman moment’ as it faces widespread job cuts and closures. If journalists were not pressed for time before, they certainly have little time these days to respond to every pitch email or speak to our clients and their customers to get the news. But, they must keep churning out news, and increasing readership in order to keep those advertising pounds coming in. So, wire services are potentially a quick way to find the news they need

The above list might not be exhaustive, but I’m sure you get the idea. Predictably, I’m not a huge fan of the newswire service. Yes, I still have to use them now and again. But I would always advise a client to think carefully about what they are getting out of the service. You might think they are wonderful when you see the press coverage trickle in, but what value is it bringing? Are you reaching the people you want to be influencing?

At Mantis, our raison’d’etre is getting technology vendors known by the individuals, departments and organisations across the public and private sectors that they are targeting, and known for the right reasons. For the last ten years’ we have been working with clients selling technology into the public sector. As a result, we know every single journalist, editor and influential group that wants to listen to and tell our clients’ stories. We know what they are writing about, and we know about the externals factors and policy that is impacting our clients’ customers.

When you know all this, there really is no need to use a newswire service. It’s far better, and much more rewarding for everybody, to use your skills as a PR to build good relationships with the right journalists, create great targeted content and see awareness and understanding grow amongst your stakeholder groups through a blend of quality press coverage, influencer relations and customer advocacy.

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